Why accessing financial and practical support is important
As we have seen, universities will have a lot of requirements from you. However, it is important to remember that universities really want to recruit learners like you and to make sure that you are supported, whatever your background. This is particularly true when it comes to financial and practical support, where universities put significant resources in place to assist you.
You should be aware that you may be entitled to, or eligible for, financial and practical support at university depending on certain factors. For example:
- If you are from a group that is typically under-represented at university, there may be outreach programmes that you can apply for as a school student
- Depending on your household income, you may be entitled to additional student loan support or eligible for bursaries
- If you have certain needs (e.g. as a carer, care leaver, or someone with a disability) then universities may provide additional practical support.
This might be something that you have already considered, but it is worth checking in detail. To help you find out more, we have pulled together an overview on university finances, bursaries and widening participation schemes.
When it comes to student finances, there are a lot of scare-stories out there. The media loves a headline-worthy story about rising tuition fees or the ‘eye-watering’ cost of a degree.
While it is true that university does come with a significant cost to the individual, it is important to remember some key points:
- you are entitled to a student loan
- you may also be eligible for additional loan support and/or grants
- you will only have to pay living costs termly
- you will only begin to pay back your loans once you earn over £25,725 per year.
Student finance can be quite complex, so we have included some links below to help you begin understanding what costs you might incur and what support might be available to you.
For more videos like this, including parent and carer guides, follow the Student Finance England YouTube channel.
Bursaries and Scholarships
Another important way in which universities remove potential barriers for learners is through bursaries and scholarships, which are made as direct payments that help students to fund their university studies.
It is estimated that there are £150m per year available in scholarships, with more still for bursaries. However, Which? University has surveyed students and found that 60% do not bother to apply for bursaries or scholarships at all. To encourage students to apply for these funding opportunities, Which? University has helpfully provided the following guide for bursaries and scholarships.
To learn more about Bursaries and Scholarships, read this article by Which? University.
As well as financial support through bursaries and scholarships, universities also make a huge effort to widen participation, especially for those from typically under-represented backgrounds.
Most universities run programmes in partnership with local schools to reach out to potential future learners. In addition, universities typically deliver their own programmes to support target learners. These programmes often combine open days, taster courses and summer schools, and some may also lead to a lower grade offer from the university.
Each university will have slightly different criteria, but if you meet any of the following then you are likely to be eligible for additional support through university widening participation teams:
- BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethic) background
- Neither parent attended university
- Carer, in care, or care leaver
- Having a disability of any kind
- Having been in receipt of free school meals
You can find out more about the widening participation opportunities in Cumbria and Lancashire via the links to the relevant university teams below.